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Dante's Owner Opens Up about Closing the Beloved Restaurant

Dante Stephensen is an icon in his own right, and as much as Atlantans will miss his restaurant, no one will miss it as much as he will.

Several Atlantans are devastated that the iconic Dante's Down the Hatch restaurant is closing its doors after more than 40 years, but it's not the fondue or the incredible nautical decor or even the live crocodile that many said they will miss the most.

It's Dante Stephensen himself.

The man who created the legendary jazz-fondue restaurant spent almost every night of the last 40 years talking to customers at their tables and sharing stories from his extraordinary life.

Perhaps no one will miss the restaurant, which he said is the country's oldest jazz club, as much as Dante.

"The restaurant is my wife and the staff are my kids. I'm not married. That's the way I look at it," Dante said.

Buckhead Patch Editor Kiri Walton had the pleasure to sit with Dante for more than an hour. Because he told such incredible stories and offered such nuggets of wisdom, Patch will run portions of the interview over the coming weeks.

Please excuse the somewhat dark nature of the video. It's shot as though the viewer is sitting at a table with Dante inside his restaurant.

 

jules December 05, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Dante was the lone holdout in Underground Atlanta as the Original tenant and the only thing that moved him from there was the devastating fire that took the whole restaurant AND thus, the antique ship that was re-assembled inside. Dante used to, maybe still does, own an antique fire truck that ran in all the Atlanta parades, proudly. He was (is) such a supporter of the City, the Community, the People . . . . I am very sad to see this story. He is truly an icon and Down the Hatch was AWESOME jazz AND food. Hats off to Dante Stephensen. Kudos on his loyalty and longevity in the business. Gonna miss that guy!!!

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